"Should not the role of design be to reconnect human beings with their space on their land?"



Daniel Urban Kiley was born in Boston, MA, in 1912. In 1936 Kiley entered the landscape architecture program at Harvard University. Kiley was extremely interested in the emerging European social, spatial, and artistic interests. While in Europe for World War II, the landscape and its gigantic formal works left a strong impression on Kiley - he recalled: 

Take a walk in the woods with Dan...

As the American built environment exploded in the 1950s, Kiley was one of the few practitioners of Modern landscape architecture, particularly on the East Coast and in the Midwest.

He was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1997, the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the U.S. government, and the Lifetime Achievement award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in 2002. Kiley passed away in 2004.

Like other Post War landscape architects, Kiley has many important works that were not properly built or maintained. Nevertheless, many of Kiley's projects remain intact today, cared for by thoughtful private and institutional stewards who understand and value Kiley’s design and legacy.

Based on the essay by Peter Walker for Shaping the American Landscape.

“The opportunity to travel around Western Europe and, for the first time in my life, to experience formal, spatial built landscapes. THIS was what I had been searching for – a language ... to reveal nature’s power and create spaces of structural integrity.

I suddenly saw that lines, allées and orchards/bosques of trees, tapis verts and clipped hedges, canals, pools and fountains could be tools to build landscapes of clarity and infinity, just like a walk in the woods.”


Explore the Garden


       iley Garden opened to the public in 1988. Sitting atop a two-level parking garage, the 4.5 acre rooftop park was a fundamental piece of an elaborate equation: the continuation of the Fibonacci mathematical sequence that architect Henry Wolf used for his buildings at the far end of the park. The architects collaborated to stretch that design out into the garden, connecting it with the city and creating a tranquil space overlooking the Hillsborough River and the University of Tampa. 

The garden uses a checkerboard pattern of grass and concrete panels. The original design included five rectangular pools, each containing an island with an individual tree. Inside the garden there were once five palm allées which served as central avenues, and 800 crepe myrtle trees planted underneath. There were also seating cubes used to reinforce the grid.

The original garden also included water features. Circular basins fed into nine narrow concrete runnels, culminating at a 400-foot long plexiglass bottomed canal. A water garden near the original Tampa Museum of Art was designed as a children’s play area and was filled with jasmine, parkinsonia and dwarf yaupon hollies. 

Unfortunately, the build of the garden wasn’t completed true to the design. Poorly executed waterproofing, insufficient drainage, heavier soil than planned, and the use of full crepe myrtles rather than the original dwarf crepe myrtles quickly led to structural problems after only a few years. The tree roots penetrated the waterproofing and caused damage to the basic structure, causing water to leak down into the garage below.

Reconstruction of the garden began in 2006, including the removal of the sabal palms and crepe myrtles, structural, electrical, and drainage repairs, reconstruction of the plaza’s small amphitheater, and garden surface reconstruction, re-paved to the original patterns. But full restoration to include the replacement of trees stalled due to lack of funding.

Today, the garden is maintained by a City of Tampa / Tampa Downtown Partnership collaboration. And while they have done as much as budgeting allows, there is still much to do. The garage is once more leaking, and the landscape is a barren ghost of what was once an urban celebration of man’s connection with nature.

That's where the Friends of Kiley Garden come in.



"Together we spread a geometric net across building and land , in a recall of a Persian carpet, so appropriate to the Moorish origins of the state, and knit the two together. Each is less than complete without the other and together in true synergy, the sum greater than the parts.."